Thursday, 10 December 2009

Talisman's A Charm

There now follows the second and final part of my brief series on "Things I forced Tiger into doing over the weekend". Not content with risking the total collapse of her brain over the threat of Paranormal Activity, I was also prepared to render her mind so catatonic with boredom that she would be prepared to use the last ergs of her synaptic energy to try and kill herself with a pointy strength token.

I speak, of course, of Tiger's first journey into the world of Talisman.

In some respects, it was my first foray as well, in that it marked my initial experience with the game's latest incarnation, the first one to be produced by Fantasy Flight rather than Games Workshop. Talisman was a staple of my late adolescence, and is still played religiously once a year at Christmas, so I was understandably nervous about whether this brand new version could live up to the memories of my all-but-vanished youth.

Turns out, mercifully, that it can, just about. It's still an easy game to pick up (certainly compared with, say, Arkham Horror or Battlestar Galactica), but manages to be simple without being linear. The quality of the artwork has much improved as well. Paradoxically, though, that's my biggest problem with this new edition. 3rd Edition was absolutely packed with the zany, almost cartoony humour that dominated Games Workshop thinking for so much of the mid '90s. Looking back, I definitely think they made the right choice to tone down the madcap keraaazee in Warhammer and (especially) 40K, but for Talisman, which operated in a self-contained realm (perhaps as some alternate dimension in which the Warhammer World runs along slightly different lines), the cheekiness of the setup added massively to the charm. There is little doubt that the artwork is now objectively better (see below for a comparison), but a lot of that is in the sense of being more realistic, and greater realism isn't necessarily very helpful in a game where you might run into a ghoul and a minstrel fighting over who gets to have themselves a pet unicorn.

I guess there are advantages to the game attempting to form its own identity, rather than cribbing Warhammer's, though in the process we've lost the Citadel miniatures that were so satisfying to paint (I'm worried whether the flexible plastic pieces the latest game comes with can be painted at all). If it came down to it, though, I'd still rather play the 3rd Edition (though in fairness I'm comparing the earlier edition with all of its expansions and the latter edition with none); the only real improvement is that the experience system now works much more sensibly (no more gaining craft for beating up a few goblins, or somehow exchanging experience with banishing spirits for a bit of gold). However, whilst I don't think the new version constitutes an improvement, it manages to be almost as good. Which is to say very good indeed.

Also, whilst on the subject of Fantasy Flight Games, I want to take a moment to tip my hat to their complaints department. My copy of the Innsmouth Expansion for Arkham Horror was missing a single (albeit important) card, and having complained about this, FF sent me a replacement for the entire deck, by first class international post, entirely free of charge. Nice!

Sheer, wondrous lunacy. Dante's Inferno meets Loony Tunes.

Absolutely gorgeous, but also slightly dull. Like the middle third of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know, the bit that was just kinda sterile, rather than absolutely goddamn terrible.

1 comment:

Nemain said...

You failed to mention dahlink, that I also beat you. ;-)